Related on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Do not be envious of one another; do not artificially inflate prices against one another; do not hate one another; do not shun one another; do not under cut one another in business transactions; be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allah (swt). A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. Piety is here – and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honour.” (Muslim)
This Hadeeth is about the rights of a Muslim. A Muslim has more rights upon another Muslim compared to a non-Muslim. This Hadeeth clarifies the things which you should not do to another Muslim. This does not in any way mean that all these things are allowed if the other person is a non-Muslim. Certainly, Allah (swt) demands that we be fair and just to all.
Unity is one of the greatest aims Islam asks Muslims to strive for and Allah (swt) forbids any division among the Muslim Ummah. The Quran urges Muslims in countless verses to remain united. Allah (swt) says: “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (which is Islam) and be not divided among yourselves…” (Al-Imran 3:103)
Several guidelines steer Muslims to practice deeds resulting in unity. Simultaneously, Islam prohibits many actions that can lead to divergence in the Muslim Ummah. The very first action that the Prophet (sa) forbids us is envy (Hasad). The fact is that Hasad led Shaitan to envy Adam (as) and lose his status among the angles. Hasad is also responsible for the first sin committed on earth by Cain (Qabil) who murdered his brother Able (Habil).
What is Hasad?
Hasad means desiring the removal of a blessing from somebody else that has been bestowed upon him by Allah (swt). For instance, somebody is blessed with wealth/children/knowledge and you feel Hasad. Hasad is having this feeling in the heart. It is felt in matters of both Deen and Dunya. The envious person actively wishes the removal of the blessing from another person, and wishes for them to get deprived even though he or she might not receive a similar blessing. For example, thinking about how someone is wealthy and always travelling; feeling upset because you cannot do the same. You just do not want another to have something you do not have, or cannot attain.
Ibn Taymiyah also included in the definition of Hasad that one hates the person having a blessing and feels that they do not deserve it, even if you do not know that person. The reality is that you hate something that Allah (swt) has given someone. Allah (swt) distributes the blessings and you are accountable for your feelings.
Levels of Hasad
Ibn Rajab states in his definition that it is part of human nature that a person dislikes anyone who is better than him in virtues. He says that people differ in their attitudes and he lists five categories of envy that people have:
- Some people will make the effort through action/speech to end the bounty received by someone whom they envy.
- Others will try to take it away from the person they envy and then try to get it for themselves.
- Some people do not make any effort by action/speech to harm the one whom they envy. This category of people can be of two types:
- The one who does his best to eliminate the feeling of envy within himself but he cannot overcome it. In spite of this, he keeps fighting and struggling against it. Ibn Rajab says: “This type of person is excused from punishment.”
- The one who thinks about envy and practices it repeatedly. He does not make any effort to fight it even though he does not do any harm by action/speech. He wishes that the bounty of the envied one gets lost. Consequently, this person deserves punishment.
- Those people who envy someone but do not harm. They do not even wish the loss of the bounty from the envied one. Instead, they make an effort to attain a similar bounty or virtue for themselves. Ibn Rajab says: “If this bounty is worldly virtues/ bounties, there is no benefit in that. But if it is a righteous virtue, then it is good.”
- Some people who whenever feel envy, they do their best to stop it and do something good for the person whom they envy. Also, they make Dua for that person until they love him because envy is usually associated with hatred. Ibn Rajab says: “These people are the best believers since everyone is subjected to indulge or be trapped by envy.” (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)
We should keep in mind that unlike the sins that are temporary, Hasad is more dangerous and worse as it is in the heart and can last for days and years. For example, drinking alcohol is a sin at the time of the act. But Hasad is a long-term sin. When you hate someone else for being blessed, it is akin to your objecting to Allah’s (swt) decree. If you look at Hasad from this angle, it makes it easier for you not to strive to compete with others, but to accept what Allah (swt) has decreed for you. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Nobody will attain faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Why is Hasad prohibited?
By Allah’s (swt) Will and Permission, Hasad can cause harm to another Muslim. Hence, it is an evil deed. This is a quality of Shaitan; even if you wish bad for someone, it can happen. The Prophet (sa) said: “Creeping upon you is the disease of those people before you: envy and hatred. And hatred is the thing that shapes. I do not say it shapes the hair but it shapes the religion. By the One in whose Hand is my soul, you will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Certainly, let me inform you of such things that you may establish: spread the greetings and peace among yourselves.” The Prophet (sa) also mentions: “Hate and business transactions are tied together with Hasad. If you do not envy, you will love and if you love you will not be unjust or unfair.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi).
“And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, they bear on themselves the crime of slander and plain sin.” (Al-Ahzab 33:58)
Muslims are the helpers and supporters of one another; they should treat each other with tolerance, love and mercy. This is how a Muslim should be.